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US Officials Pin Bank Hack Attack on Iran

US Officials Pin Bank Hack Attack on Iran

Today in international tech news: U.S. officials point to Iran as the source of a bank hack attack, BlackBerry's app store contains pirated apps, Apple's Tim Cook goes to China again, India targets Nokia over unpaid taxes, and officials in the UK fret about the nation's vulnerability to cyberattacks.

By David Vranicar
01/09/13 7:54 AM PT

U.S. government officials and security experts are convinced that a recent cyberattack on American banks was executed by Iran, according to The New York Times.

The U.S. has not yet divulged any evidence to corroborate their accusations, but The Times reports that security experts say the attack displayed a level of sophistication not possible for an amateur. The style of the attack, which aimed to disrupt services as opposed to thieving money, was another earmark of state-sponsored attacks.

The Times quotes Carl Herberger, vice president of the security firm Radware, who said that the attacks were unprecedented in "scale, scope and effectiveness."

The attacks were reportedly of the DDoS variety, which directs excessive amounts of traffic to a site until it collapses.

A hacker group called "Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters" -- say that three times fast -- took to the Web claiming responsibility for the attacks in what they say was retaliation for the anti-Islam video "The Innocence of Muslims." The group vowed continued attacks unless the video was removed from the Internet.

American intelligence officials, however, aren't buying it. The say the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters are simply covering for Iran.

BlackBerry App Store Contains Pirated Apps

The app store for Research In Motion's BlackBerry, BlackBerry App World, was found to be housing pirated Android apps.

Reporting on a tip culled from Reddit, Cnet reports that the apps were packaged as BlackBerry PlayBook and BlackBerry 10 apps. In other words, they were passed off as legit BlackBerry items despite being patently pirated.

The Reddit poster claimed to be a developer whose apps had been downloaded from Google Play, converted and published for Blackberry in the guise of being the pirate's own.

A RIM spokesperson is quoted by Cnet saying that, upon being notified, RIM will immediately remove all pirated content from its app store.

Apple's Tim Cook Again in China

Apple CEO Tim Cook is meeting with partners and government officials in China, according to Reuters.

Apple's previous CEO, Steve Jobs, never visited China, a storyline which acted as the backdrop for Cook's first visit there less than a year ago.

China is Apple's second-biggest market, currently accounting for roughly 15 percent of the company's annual revenue. Reuters reports that Apple sold more than 2 million iPhone 5s in China within three days of the December release.

Apple's long-term success in China may depend on its ability to parent with domestic giant China Mobile, the nation's top telecommunications carrier, Reuters reports, citing analysts. It is not clear, however, whether Cook will be meeting with China Mobile.

India Targets Nokia Over Taxes

A Nokia factory was raided by Indian tax officials who are reportedly trying to recoup more than US$500 million in unpaid taxes, according to the BBC.

The raid on Finland-based Nokia, which has been in India since 1995, comes days after Indian tax officials asked UK-based Vodafone to cough up more than $2 billion in back taxes, according to the BBC.

Parliament Worried About Cyberattacks

Members of Britain's Parliament have voiced concern that the UK's armed forces are vulnerable to a cyberattack.

The Guardian reports that the concerns are rooted in the military's use of "technology that has no proven back-up." In what The Guardian described as "a withering critique," a parliamentary committee urged the government to more thoroughly address the pitfalls of the nation's cybersecurity.

The committee claims that it is not clear who would be in charge should the UK be hit with a sustained cyberattack, and that the Ministry of Defence is totally reliant on cybersystems that, if attacked, could leave the armed services "fatally compromised."


David Vranicar is a freelance journalist and author of The Lost Graduation: Stepping off campus and into a crisis. You can check out his ECT News archive here, and you can email him at david[dot]vranicar[at]newsroom[dot]ectnews[dot]com.


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